34 (33 at the time of nomination)
Lighting Specialist; Hite Company
By Joe Nowlan
Amanda Konchan grew up in Johnstown, Pa. After she graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania she moved to Philadelphia, hoping to land a job in interior design, her academic major, as opposed to the electrical industry.
She did just that—ironically, as soon as she moved back to Johnstown.
“I actually moved back home here to Johnstown, opened up the newspaper and saw the position advertised [at the Hite Co.]. So I just applied for it,” Konchan explained.
Her first job there was in Hite’s lighting design center. She always was interested in design, she said.
“It is something that I’ve been interested in ever since I was young. I remember being young and designing my own houses, just playing and sketching out houses,” Konchan said. “I actually wanted to go to school to be an architect. I investigated a little bit and I came across interior design. I figured I would start there and see where it took me.”
While she now works in the electrical industry, generally speaking, it wasn’t a specific industry that Konchan targeted in any way.
“It is not necessarily that I heard about the electrical industry,” she said. “But I fell into the electrical side of the design part of it.”
Constant learning and new lighting developments keep Konchan busy, but she loves the intensity and variety of her work.
“I have done residences. I have done warehouses, parking lots, restaurants, and retail stores,” she said. “That really is very interesting to me because it keeps me on my toes. I have to make sure that I stay abreast of everything. It really is a challenge that I enjoy.”
As a lighting specialist, Konchan occasionally discovers that the axiom “Everybody’s a critic” applies.
“Lighting has become so important in every facility you walk into. When people know why I am in their facility…everybody instantly gets excited,” she explained. “They want to show me something and say, ‘I hate this lighting. This lighting is terrible.’ It affects every single person everywhere you are.”
When she began at Hite, Konchan received advice and mentoring from company veterans—something that is a bit of a tradition there, she explained.
“[Hite] is a family-owned business. We have a lot of veterans within our company, which is fantastic. We have people with 20- and 30-plus years in the industry,” Konchan said. “It is really great to work in that atmosphere because they can guide you to where exactly you need to be.”
She is grateful for that help and guidance. These days, Konchan is occasionally the mentor and finds herself reciprocating the help she received at one time.
“There is a young woman who took my place in the lighting showroom,” Konchan said. “But I said just the other day, ‘I can’t believe that I am the one who is 10 years older than the girl sitting at my desk!’ I’m starting to realize that I am becoming a veteran.”
Konchan enjoys her work, obviously, as well as being back in Johnstown where she lives with her daughter, Lia (10 years old).
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. My best advice is to always keep an open mind and keep learning. That is the most important thing. Don’t ever think that you already know everything because, especially in the electrical and the lighting industries, things are changing so rapidly. They always have been but especially today with LEDs. Things change so fast that if you are not keeping up with it you are very quickly going to fall behind. I personally try to take advantage of any and every training opportunity that is passed through by an e-mail sent by a colleague or from a vendor. Anything I can get my hands on I make sure I’m reading it. Going to webinars, anything I can to stay abreast of what is new in the industry. You can’t fall behind.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?
A. It really is the ever-changing aspect of it. And the constant learning and the ability to do something different every day, talk with new people and new customers. Every day, I am doing something different. And that is what keeps me passionate and involved in what I am doing. I realize now that I could never have a desk job [laughing]. I can never just sit in an office and do the same thing every day. That is definitely not my personality. But I didn’t really know that until I got into this industry.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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